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A Quick Beginner’s Guide to Eating and Enjoying Crawfish in Cajun Cuisine

A Quick Beginner’s Guide to Eating and Enjoying Crawfish in Cajun Cuisine

Many people, especially from the South, are fond of eating crawfish, and are surprised when someone says they don’t know how to eat this tasty crustacean. Those who have no idea how to eat a crawfish will often be eager to learn. There are just a few things you’ll need to know before biting into your first crawfish.

A Brief Background on Cajun Food

Cajun food came from the Acadians, French speakers who settled in the South after being driven from their original homes in Canada in the 18th Century. Upon settling in Louisiana and the surrounding states, they adapted their style of cooking to fit with the ingredients that were easily available in the swampy environment: crawfish and seafood, rice, deep spices, vegetables, and potatoes. Many Cajun dishes you’ll eat include what’s known as the ‘holy trinity’ of vegetables. The combination of onion, bell pepper and celery create a familiar and delicious base that many dishes are built upon.

Crawfish are a freshwater crustacean that thrives in swampy settings. Even today, crawfish are farmed with rice paddies as their habitat, as well as being caught in the wild in states such as Texas and Louisiana.

Crawfish is Often Served on a Platter: Prepare to Get a Bit Messy

Dishes You Should Try

If you like rice based dishes, try gumbo, etouffee or jambalaya. These dishes are all thick seafood stews served with shrimp or crawfish, and are served either over rice, or cooked in a pot with rice included in the mix. These dishes will fill you up and warm you right up if you’re craving for some comfort food.

If you’re in a social gathering the first time you eat crawfish, you may be served a platter or boil. This is a common setting where a large number of crawfish are boiled together in a pot, and are served on the shell with potatoes, corn, dirty rice or vegetables. However, newbies don’t have anything to fear, as it’s easy to eat crawfish.

How to Eat a Crawfish

The best way to eat crawfish is by using your fingers, so don’t be afraid to get a little messy when digging into a boil or platter. First, grasp the crawfish by the tail. Keep a grip with your thumb and forefinger on either side. Next, twist and snap the head of the crawfish away from the tail. If you like, you can suck the juices from the head and claws of the crawfish, but otherwise discard them.

Peel the shell away from the crawfish tail, starting with the widest part, the same way you would peel a shrimp. Then, tug the meat out of the tail and enjoy it. Most people like to eat as they peel for freshness, but you can peel a portion of crawfish and eat them after if you prefer.

Should You Cook at Home or Eat Out?

There’s no harm in wanting to cook crawfish at home, but if you haven’t done it before, you may want to eat out at a restaurant first to see how things should taste. Cajun food is a fine balance of flavors, and it’d be a shame to over or under season a meal, or over cook your crawfish if you haven’t got previous experience. Eating out may also give you inspiration for your own recipes, as a Cajun restaurant will have quirks and specialties that need to be explored.

Eating crawfish should be a fun and tasty experience, so never worry about looking messy or making a fool of yourself. You can always ask your friends or a waiter for tips on how to eat the dishes you’ve ordered, or try something with chicken or pork if you’re not yet ready to try crawfish.

Sources:

How to Eat Boiled Crawfish, SouthernLiving.com

10 Cajun Dishes to Try in Louisiana, EverInTransit.com A

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